A Great Revival, but “No Happy Ending” (2 Chronicles 30)

Scripture reading – 2 Chronicles 30

Our study of the life and reign of Hezekiah, king of Judah, continues in today’s Scripture reading (2 Chronicles 30). The king had directed the repairs and cleansing of the Temple, and commanded the priests and Levites to set themselves in order, according to the will of the LORD (29:1-19). After that, the king and leaders of Judah assembled themselves at the Temple, and rededicated the Temple and themselves, offering sacrifices to the LORD (29:20-26). All the congregation of Judah gathered to worship, and renew their covenant with the LORD (29:27-36).

2 Chronicles 30 – A Revival of the Passover

Arguably, 2 Chronicles 30 was the pinnacle of Hezekiah’s reign as king of Judah. With his zeal for the LORD, and longing to see God’s blessings return to His people, Hezekiah issued an invitation for all of the people to gather at Jerusalem, including the remnant of Israel that had escaped the Assyrian captivity.

We read, “And Hezekiah sent to all Israel and Judah, and wrote letters also to Ephraim and Manasseh, that they should come to the house of the Lord at Jerusalem, to keep the passover unto the Lord God of Israel” (2 Chronicles 30:1).

Though commanded by the LORD to be an annual observance, the people had long neglected the Passover (30:3). Renewing the observance, the king and leaders determined to keep the Passover “in the second month” (30:2) Though the Law commanded the Passover be observed in the first month (Exodus 12:1-2), the month delay must have been necessitated by the preparations required for the gathering of the tribes.

A Royal Decree (30:5-13)

Bearing the king’s invitation to assemble in Jerusalem for the Passover, runners were sent “throughout all Israel, from Beersheba (southernmost Judah) even to Dan (the northernmost tribe, 30:5).

More than an invitation, the king’s decree was an exhortation, and he challenged the remnant of Israel, “be not ye like your fathers, and like your brethren, which trespassed against the Lord God of their fathers, who therefore gave them up to desolation, as ye see” (30:7). Hezekiah charged, all they had suffered as a people was because of the sins of the generation before them. He admonished, “be ye not stiffnecked, as your fathers were, but yield yourselves unto the Lord, and enter into his sanctuary [Temple], which he hath sanctified for ever: and serve the Lord your God, that the fierceness of his wrath may turn away from you” (30:8)

Hezekiah implored the people to turn from their sins to the LORD, and He would move on the hearts of the Assyrians to show their families and children compassion (30:9a). With a passionate appeal, the king reminded the people, “the Lord your God is gracious and merciful, and will not turn away his face from you, if ye return unto him” (30:9).

The northern tribes of Israel had experienced the wrath of God, and been left impoverished by the Assyrians; yet, their hearts were hardened and when they received the king’s messengers, they “laughed them to scorn, and mocked them” (30:10). However, we read, there were many from the tribes “of Asher and Manasseh and of Zebulun [that] humbled themselves, and came to Jerusalem” (30:11).

With the “hand of God” upon them, the people of Judah gathered with “one heart to do the commandment of the king and of the princes, by the word of the Lord. 13And there assembled at Jerusalem much people to keep the feast of unleavened bread in the second month, a very great congregation” (30:12-13).

Observance of the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread (30:13-27)

To observe the Passover and rededicate themselves to the LORD as His people, the leaders of the nation were mindful to put “away the altars that were in Jerusalem, and all the altars for incense took they away, and cast them into the brook Kidron” (30:14), where they were destroyed.

The congregation came together to offer sacrifices; however, some of the priests and Levites “were ashamed” for some had not yet sanctified themselves, nor had some of the congregation prepared themselves to observe the Passover (30:15-20).

The week following the Passover, the people observed the Feast of Unleavened Bread for seven days, singing and praising the LORD (30:21). So great was the spirit, the people determined to enjoy the time of revival another seven days, requiring the king and leaders of the people to given more to be slain for the people (30:22-25). The people of Judah, the remnant of Israel, and some who were “strangers that came out of the land of Israel” (non-Hebrews who had come to believe in the LORD), “rejoiced” (30:25).

Closing thoughts – The joy and celebration at the revival of the Passover and the unity of worship among the people was such as had not been seen in Jerusalem since the time Solomon had dedicated the Temple (30:26-27). The revival being ended, the people returned to their homes, but Sennacherib, king of Assyria was already moving his army to lay siege to Jerusalem (32:1).

Friend, life is not a “fairy tale,” and as long as we live in the midst of this sinful world, your story may not end with, “they lived happily ever-after.” All men are sinners, and in the words of a songwriter, we are all “prone to wander.”

Copyright © 2022 – Travis D. Smith